The Champagne region’s fame really needs no introduction thanks to its long history, near-perfect winemaking conditions and big brands with even bigger marketing budgets. But it’s because of the latter that it’s easy to forget that there are boutique vineyards with tiny parcels that are just as adept at taking advantage of the region’s terroir. With well over 300 villages that include at least 5,000 growers who make their own wine, it’s safe to say that the average appreciator won’t have the time or means to discover them all. But Kyla Kirkpatrick is no ordinary champagne lover, and the champagne subscription service she’s bringing to Singapore is about to show you a side of Champagne you’ve never seen.
Kirkpatrick is the founder and CEO of Emperor Champagne, the largest online retailer of champagne in Australia with nearly 300 bubblies available by the bottle. She also provides a subscription service to clients which, in addition to a monthly shipment of curated premium cuvees, includes video tutorials, invitations to exclusive events with winemakers, special releases and priority access to tours in France.
The subscription service will be launching in Singapore on 15 August 2019 — a date that ties in with the birth of Napoleon Bonaparte, himself a bubbly enthusiast — with three subscription tiers. The “Lovers” tier is targeted at the millennial consumer who wants to learn the story of the champagne houses, where it comes from, and how it’s made. The “Connoisseur” tier offers two bottles a month for people who regularly entertain, while the $888 “Collector” tier brings three rare gems straight from the cellars in Champagne to your doorstep. Because of the bottles’ rarity (think Agrapart, Egly-Ouriet and Tattinger Comtes de Champagne Rose vintage), only 12 spots in this tier will be available.
But just how did an Australian with degrees in commerce and mandarin end up with this much access? In a word: gumption. By her own admission, Kirkpatrick’s passion for champagne didn’t even start with enjoying the drink. She enjoyed its story more. “I really connected to The Art and Business of Champagne, and I decided to write a letter to its author, Daniel E. Ginsburg. To my surprise, he wrote back and told me he won’t answer my questions in writing, but to get on a plane to Champagne where he will teach me everything he knew,” she recalls. “I could have gone for a week or a month but I knew I wanted to go forever. This was around 2005. I was 26, with a fiancee, a dog and a serious job in finance but I bought a one-way ticket to Paris and reinvented myself to become an ambassador for champagne.”
Her passion evident and eloquence abundant, she soon found a role as brand ambassador to LVMH’s champagne brands, which include Moet et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon. A few years later, driven by her curiosity for smaller growers and boutique producers, she launched her own company, The Champagne Dame, a moniker she earned during her time at LVMH.
“After my first champagne masterclass I was surprised to see repeat customers coming for the same class. So I had to keep writing new classes and looking at champagne through different lenses,” she says, adding that these clients have followed her for 15 years. “Eventually I needed to separate those who just wanted to come along for the first time then say goodbye, and the people who really wanted to try rare and interesting champagnes and enhance their knowledge.” For the latter, she created Emperor Champagne in 2016.
“In other regions, sparkling wine is often an afterthought but the winemakers of Champagne don’t just knock out a sparkling wine when they feel like it. I know winemakers who know when a particular butterfly is missing from their vineyard. They live, breathe, and die for it. That’s what makes Champagne so special.”
Join the Emperor Champagne waiting list at https://emperorchampagne.asia/